According to new data from Glassnode, the percentage of supply owned by entities holding 10 BTC or less has grown from 5.1% to 13.8% since June 2015.
The amount of bitcoin held by small investors has more than doubled in the past five years as so-called whale holdings declined by an almost similar margin during the same period.
At the same time, whale-sized bitcoin wallets holding between 100 to 100,000 BTC have dropped to 49.8% from 62.9% five years ago.
The figures suggest mass adoption is on the rise and that the top cryptocurrency is becoming more decentralized.
“Control of bitcoin’s supply has been steadily shifting towards smaller entities”, observed data analytics firm Glassnode.
There is nearly 18.6 million bitcoin in circulation today, the bulk of which is in the hands of whales. Only 21 million coins could ever be issued, which makes bitcoin inflation-resistant as well as a potential gold mine for those investors holding it for long-term investment.
However, the wealthy individuals or entities known as whales – which can be defined as the BTC community’s own version of the ‘deep state’ – have often been accused of market manipulation, using their large asset holdings to swing prices up or down.
In an earlier report, Glassnode noted that the number of whales with 1,000 BTC or more in their wallets had risen to 1,882 by June from around 1,650 in January – but they are not as rich anymore.
It said the average balance held by each whale decreased during this period, such that whales actually hold less BTC now than in 2016, and less wealth (in USD terms) than in 2017.
The observations appear to dovetail with the company’s latest findings, which show a gradual transfer of wealth from some of bitcoin’s early adopters – who tend to possess very large amounts of the asset – to retail investors.
Mass adoption may be the elixir bitcoin needs to gain a foothold in the global financial system.